tv In the Arena CNN April 5, 2011 8:00pm-9:00pm EDT
are off base, but this is why the opposition is support. again, a full-scale retreat on the road just outside brega. brega here heading back towards ajdabiya, now the front line in this and the regime says it's holding on. the opposition is worried here. important to keep our eyes on the bloomfield in the days ahead. see you back here. "in the arena" starts right now. good evening. president obama got just a little, how do i say this, angry. maybe too strong a word, maybe miffed is for like it, but by obama standards, he got tough. he really went after congress for not closing a budget deal.
take a listen. >> it would be inexcusable for us to not be able to take care of last year's business -- keep in mind we're dealing with a budget that could have gotten done three months ago, could have gotten done two months ago, could have gotten done last month -- when we are this close simply because of politics. >> every parent knows that voice. that was the president's version of, hey, kids, you don't really want me to pull this car over, now do you? well, the republicans came right backswinging so fast, in fact, that they caught cnn's own jim acosta off guard. no sooner did he begin his analysis of the president's speech than john boehner stepped up to the podium. >> well, he appears to be saying game on, randy. over the next couple of days we'll be watching basically the theatrics of a high-stakes budget showdown in washington, the likes of which -- >> let me interrupt you, jim. we want to get to john boehner speaking. we'll get back to you. >> we've made clear that we're
fighting for the largest spending cuts possible. we're talking about real spending cuts here, no smoke and mirr mirrors. >> for washington, this is high drama. it's also a high-stakes battle, and the possibility of a government shutdown is still very real. one of the most hard-liners and slash the spending guys is jason chap its who sits on the house budget committee. i spoke with him just a few moments ago. let's jump right into this. how far apart are the two sides? we're just a couple days away from a government shutdown. in numbers, what is the white house offering and what are you demanding? what is the gap between the two sides right now? >> it's hard to tell what the white house is offering. obviously, the speaker has been in consultation there. i'm just glad the president is hopefully engaining at this point because we need his help in leadership. my pledge was i wanted to cut $100 billion back to the 2008 levels. i think that's a reasonable
thing to achieve for the entire year. so how we get from here to there, tough, difficult decision, but hopefully we get to the answer sooner rather than later. >> congressman, i heard the president today talking about 73 is what they pugt on the table, and i'm not talking about how you spread these numbers around. difference between 73, even if you had to get to 100, you're talking about $27 billion here. that's the gap at most on a budget of $3.8 trillion. we're talking way less than 1% of the budget. isn't this kind of silly? put the rhetoric aside. are you going to risk a government shutdown over less than 1% of what's at stake here? >> well, i don't want the government to shut down, but if it were that close, if it's really that close, i would think we could get to that $100 billion number because if you look at the $1.6 trillion we're going to add up in the debt this year, yeah, it is a small amount of money. so let's get to the finish line and move on with the business of this country. >> here's the question i've got for you. you said you're going to vote
against raising the debt ceiling. just so folks understand, that's different than closing the budget gap for right now. is it true you're going to vote against raising the debt ceiling and throw the federal government into bankruptcy? even if you've got your $100 billion in cuts, we're going to have a federal deficit well over a trillion dollars next year so the federal government is going to have to borrow. how can you rationally say you're going to oppose raising the debt ceiling? >> what i've said is i would not vote to raise the debt ceiling unlessy ear moving in a trajectory to cut the debt and move towards a balanced budget. >> you're saying you will vote against raising debt ceiling based upon what the president offered, $73 billion in cuts, but for it if you get your $100 billion. that $27 billion is -- >> no. there are two separate issues, they'll be dealt with separately. we need to get through this continuing resolution. the only reason we're dealing with a continuing resolution is because the democrats who have the house and senate and presidency refuse to even pretend to do a budget last year. that's why we're in this.
>> you voted to give tax cuts to the richest americans, the top 2%, gave them tax cuts of about $800 billion over a decade, exactly what you guys are saying we now need to cut from health care for the poorest americans. that was a tradeoff you made. how can you justify that as a matter of ethics, morality or simply good conscience? >> well, actually, when that package came up i voted against it but for different reasons than you're stating. >> you wanted to -- >> and we added $300 billion to debt. that's why i think -- without cutting anything. that was the problem i had with the tax packages. we didn't cut anything but we added additional $300 billion to our national debt. nevertheless, nevertheless, the principles are the same. we are taxing, borrowing and spending too much money. we have to curb the spending. it's the classic approach to whether you believe government should do, what is the proper role of government. i just don't believe you'll tax your way to prosperity. you can't spend 25 cents out of every dollar. >> congressman, i don't believe you can tax your way to prosperity, but if you look at the clinton presidency when the rates were 50% below where they
used to be, we used to have marginal rates in the '90s during roosevelt, eisenhower, in the 80s, we're down to 39. you are driving the government to bankruptcy and balancing the budget on the backs of the poor and that's the choice i have. how do you justify that? we had more job creation during president clinton's era than we had over 4-1 over george w. bush when he was cutting the tax rates. you're wrong on the economics of history. but the question i want to ask you right now relates to the tax code. you want to simply fit. right? >> yes. >> you say you want to bring rates down to 25%. you're going to eliminate all the tax loopholes. >> we want to broaden the base and lower the rates. >> i'm with you 100%. which loopholes are you eliminatin eliminating? are you embracing the bowles-simpson plan? >> there were several provisions, a dozen plus of the simpson bowles plan that is in the house budget plan. what we're setting is the framework and the committees of jurisdiction would have to come in and fill in the details.
that's how it works. >> i'm here to ask you act those details because i'm reading this stuff today and expecting details in this plan that's been much ballyhooed. i want details. one of the things bowles simpson did, they eliminated the capital gains rate. are you for that or against it? >> i want to reduce it. i don't know that i would fully eliminate it. if it was up to me unilaterally, i want to reduce that rate. capital gains. >> we're talking a different language. when i say eliminate the capital gains, they were going to tax income that is now capital gains, income at ordinary crates increasing the tax rate on that. are you for that or against that? >> i want to reduce that rate. historically, as we've reduced the capital gains tax, revenues to the treasury has gone up. that's the history of it. >> historically wrong. >> factually, that is absolutely right. >> if you do that, you'll never be able to reduce the rates like you're talking. the thing that the bowles simpson plans look at is capital gains. another one. we disagree.
mortgage income tax deduction. eliminating that for homeowners? >> no. look, what -- >> what are you eliminating? >> what we have done is had this scored by the cbo. if you look at the plan in its totality, if you compare it to the president's plan, $6 trillion less, $6 trillion less in our debt that we're adding. and no longer do we have these trillion-dollar deficits on an annual basis where we have been between 1.4 and 1.6 trillion dollars this year, we'll be less than a trillion dollars next year. >> let's be real. the way the cbo scored it, even if you did everything in your plan, and most doesn't make sense, you'd have a balanced budget by 2040. right? >> yes. >> is that a fact? >> late 2030s. >> okay, i thought it was 2040. >> one of the principles that's important here is we did not touch the seniors that are 55 years and older. we have obligations we need to live up to seniors. medicare and those types of things. >> you exempted seniors and beat up on the poor because that's
easier. >> no, we didn't. >> let me ask you this -- you say you'll broaden the base of the tax code. you haven't given me one significant tax loophole to close. which one? name it. >> we're going the look at the totality, broaden the base, lower the rate, the principle by which the committees of jurisdiction, of which there are several, are going to go back and look and offer the specifics. that's the way the process works. >> the way the process works is paul ryan, after a whole lot of study, was supposed to tell us the details today. i read this. a whole lot of 70 pages of small printed footnotes. i was saying good, broaden the tax base, eliminate a trillion dollars in tax expenditures, they say. but in the details, which will you close? otherwise it's mumbo jumbo, smoke and mirrors, the same stuff you said you went to washington to eliminate. tell me which loopholes you're closing. >> we'll make major adjustments to entitlement. i'm proud of the fact -- >> not social security. >> we do, because there are
triggers in place. >> no, no. >> yes. >> i have the sheets here. you're increasing spending in soak. i have the sheet in front of me. >> if you look at medicare, medicaid -- >> social security. >> i'm talking about the entitlement programs. >> so am i. >> we cut the exexpenditures, sw the rate of growth and in the case of social security there are triggers that kick into place because it becomes insolvent, because if it does, which we know it will be, the president, the senate and the house are required to actually submit a plan which will bring everybody to the table to help solve it. >> congressman, i appreciate you coming on the show. >> thank you. >> i mean it sincerely, let's figure out what we're going to do with the tax code, how to close the loopholes. i want the answers and i'm sure you'll have them down the road. >> thank you. >> thank you, sir. all right. he's a good sport. we enjoyed that conversation. i'm sure he will come back. who wins the fight between the white house and the republicans? david gergen is the perfect man to mediate. he'll do that when we come back. and will cain, things are getting crazy in wisconsin. >> talking act wisconsin again,
a state supreme court race. every viewer should wonder outside of my mother, why would i want to watch will talk about a scour race in wisconsin? because it's become a proxy on scott walker and his collective bargaining rights law. we'll hear what voters say about the law. >> fascinating stuff. stay with us. [ male announcer ] unrestrained. unexpected. and unlike any hybrid you have ever known. ♪ introducing the most fuel-efficient luxury car available. ♪ the radically new, 42 mile per gallon ct hybrid from lexus. ♪ welcome to the darker side of green. the morning after the big move starts with back pain... and a choice. take advil now... and maybe up to 4 in a day.
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announcer: trade commission-free for 30 days, plus get up to $500 when you open an account. president obama today scolded congress, insisting they act like grown-ups or come midnight friday the federal government shuts down. so let's talk to a real grown-up about who's right, one of the few grown-ups i know joining me now, cnn's senior political analyst david gergen. thanks for being here. the president tried really hard today to show he was in command. did he succeed at that political mission? >> he certainly seized the bully pulpit very well, elliott. i think he was smart to get out there because he's been accused of being too passive in these deficit debates and he's finally in the game and i think he did very well by it. i don't think that gives him the
upper hand in terps of who may get blamed if there's a shutdown. >> before we even get to blame and some of the numbers involved. >> sure. >> a question that has been bothering me as i watch this unfold is why didn't the president and his party, the democratic party, pass a budget last year when the democratic party controlled the senate and the house and the president had the opportunity to make this year's budget, at least, reflect his value structure? why did they let it linger so long? >> darn good question. their public response, steny hoyer, for example, democrat number two in the house, said last year that they weren't going to pass a budget because they wanted to wait until december to see what the simpson-bowles deficit commission came up with. that was sort of the public excuse. i think underneath that, elliott, the truth is they were worried if they passed a controversial budget with some cuts in it that they would then face the wrath of voters in an election in november that already looked tough.
i think they ducked for political purposes. >> and i think it's fair to say that having ducked they certainly then got bitten by the end of possible worlds and lost control of the house and now they're stuck fighting this year over last year's budget, they're losing funding for all the programs that they do, in fact, care about, and so it's a lose-lose proposition. makes you wonder if delaying all these tough decisions hasn't made it worse for them, not better. >> well, that's right, elliott. doesn't that also suggest to you that if the congress and the president continue to wait on the bigger reforms that are needed in order to bring deficits under control that those are only going to get worse, too, that the problems get worse, the politics get harder, the cost to the government paying interest rates on increased deficits only get higher? >> absolutely. the delay is the enemy of progress in this case. i want to come back to the actual back and forth, the difference between the white house and the congress, it seems to be reasonably small not in terms of tens of billions of dollars but small in the context of the entirety of the budget.
doesn't the public look -- you know, if you're talking about $20 billion they're fighting over with a budget of $3.8 trillion, doesn't the public look at them and say, you know, a pox on both your houses and everybody loses from this? >> absolutely. and that's why i think the white house may be making a mistake in assuming that if there is a shutdown that the democrats will benefit just as they did in the mid-90s when president clinton was in office fighting against newt gingrich and republicans. as you'll remember, that shutdown absolutely paid off for the president. and so there's that sort of sense among democrats. but if you look at the polls -- and i think just your sense of things is is that's not at all the case this time. there was a "wall street journal" poll here just a few weeks ago that showed that if there's a shutdown 58% of americans will blame both parties equally. 21% will then blame the republicans more than the democrats, but 21% will blame democrats more than republicans. i don't see how you can find a
finer example or more clear-cut evidence that shows the public is going to do exactly what you're saying, declare a pox on both houses. >> yeah, and there's also the larger issue, i think, that at the end of the day people want leadership out of the white house. and i think in a way he has ceded that authority by today, in fact, paul ryan coming out with what i think will be deemed a controversial budget plan. but i wonder, has paul ryan now defined the terms of the debate so once again the president will be responding rather than defining how we view the -- defining the prism through which we view this issue? >> when the president says there are too many children up there, i think for many in the american public paul ryan looks like the adult who actually had the courage to put forward a plan. yeah, it's controversial. i strongly disagree with elements of it. i agree with what you've been saying, that it takes too much out of the hides of children and seniors and others and any kind of agreement, just as the
bowles-simpson commission said, has to have tax increases. they said $2 of spending cuts for every $1 in tax increases. that seemed to be a sensible approach. the ryan plan takes it all out of spending. i object on a variety of grounds. but i give him credit as i think many americans will do for actually having put forward a plan. now we've had bowles-simpson, a deficit commission bipartisan put forward a plan, we have senators working on a plan they're going to come up with, we have the republican budget leader in the house coming forward with a plan. where is the white house plan? where is the white house plan? that's the kind of leadership you and i are accustomed to t p banner and leads. we're having a hard time adjusting to the alternative form of leadership where he sits on the sidelines and waits for the moment to intervene. >> waiting for consensus to form and then joining it is not what we want out of the presidency. a slightly different strategic issue, it struck me as odd last
december, even though the president had a good lame-duck question. we said he got some thing, don't ask, don't tell repealed, some stimulus money. why did he not at the moment he agreed to extend the bush tax cuts for the wealthiest in particular, why did he not at that point put some of these structural issues on the table so at least get paul ryan and the republican incoming leadership to concede some points about medicare, medicaid? then when the president theoretically had more a negotiating leverage. >> i don't know. but i thought he had two or three really good months of general leadership after the november elections. i thought he was more assertive, got some things done. but he did let a window pass on the bowles-simpson commission and the momentum that was generating. he could have picked up on that and said i'm not ready to lay down all the particulars yet, but i will tell you i come to this -- this coming two years with a sense of urgency about the need to pass long-term reforms that will kick in when the economy is stronger.
we're not going to try to cut deficits, slash the spending in the midst of economic recovery. but when this economy is back on track, we want those various provisions to be in place that will ensure the bond market and the world that we're on a good path, we're on the same path. i don't know why they let that moment pass. i think it was a terrible mistake. >> you know, david, time is running out. but i want to tee up an issue i hope owe eel have a chance to talk about in weeks ahead, and that is what drives the entire budget debate, which is the cost of health care. we don't control that, medicaid, medicare are really about health care cost control. if we don't figure that one out, doesn't matter, these are ours, then we will go bankrupt someday. that's the hardest issue. >> i totally agree and it will be the most controversial part of the ryan plan, but at least we have one party putting a view forward abhout how to solve the health care problem and now it's time for the democrats to come
forward with their version of how to do that. >> thanks for joining us. >> thanks. coming up, the nuclear nightmare in japan sparks a backlash around the globe. the growing fear over all things nuclear. eeze. but with zyrtec® liquid gels, i get fast, 24-hour allergy relief. so i feel better by the time we tee off. zyrtec® liquid gels work fast, so i can love the air®.
word in from japan, workers have finally plugged that leaky nuclear reactor, slowing the flow of toxic water into the pacific, at least for now. but this nuclear nightmare is far from over. the contamination could be with us for decades. it's already having a powerful effect on the nuclear industry. we have a renowned economist, environmentalist, and author,
just the smartest person we could find to talk about the undeniable impact this crisis is having on all of us. bjorn, thanks for coming in. >> great to be here. >> there is panic, and i don't think i'm overstating it. people are looking at every nuclear facility and thinking is this the next fukushima meltdown? what's your response? is this an overblown emotional response? >> well, it's a very natural response. when i saw -- you saw that blowing off of a roof from a nuclear power plant, that's just not supposed to happen. it's obvious we get scared. we have bad precedents. we have three mile island, obviously, chernobyl. those are things that really make us worry. but we also need to put it into context because, you know, being scared is not the right moment to make good decisions. honestly, if we look at what happened, for instance, in chernobyl, still much worse than what we're seeing in japan, we're estimating about 31 people died instantaneously. if we look at the best studies, probably somewhere between 9,000 and 33,000 people died over the
next 70 years, so even into the future. that's terrible. but let's remember to put that into perspective of what happens with the energy supply we have for the whole world. we kill many, many more people by using a lot of fossil fuels. simply put, we have lots and lomts of deaths just digging out coal from -- in china, for instance, about 2,300 people died last year just digging out the coal. of course from air pollution we're estimating somewhere between a third and 1 million people die each year from air pollution in the western world. >> you're sounding like such a rational hard-nosed, cold-blooded economist, not a guy sitting here wearing a t-shirt, but you're right. we've got to understand the real human cost from the multiple energy sources we've gotten, not just compare nuclear against some abstract solar power, which isn't an option right now. >> and not only, that but also have the idea of saying this is terrible because, you know, we watch the picture, but let's remember all the things we don't
watch, all the chinese workers that die in coal mines and all the countless, faceless people that die from air pollution. and if we stop using our nuclear power plants, the ones we already have, it simply means they'll be replaced with coal-fired power plants. >> we'll get to that in a second, other options, because some would say, i'm aamong them, to define it as nuclear versus coal misses the option, but one thing about nuclear is where dough ydo you put them? i've been a fan as far as a bridge resource. but 22-odd miles away from new york city so if an event like this happened the scale of the tragedy would be that much greater, that doesn't seem to make sense to me. >> no. that's silly and there's been a lot of silly decisions on where we put nanltuclear power plants. i come from copenhagen and denmark, we have across the sound five miles away a nanucle power plant right next to a big international city. that's stupid. but we also need to realize that we're stuck with some of the
choices we've made. we need to make them secure and obviously need to improve them, for instance, for tsunamis and go back and learn from our experience, but we also need to not have that sort of visceral reaction and say, all right, let's get rid of it. >> which is what -- panicking is never a good moment to make a tough decision. but how do you deal with the issue of the waste? we have spent fuel ponds, where so much of the radiation leakage seems on first blush to have come from japan. spent fuel ponds, similar design, some significant number of nuclear plants in the united states. should this be a reason for concern? >> well, it definitely should be a reason for concern. it's been for a long time. i think it's one of the big concerns we have for nuclear power and one of the reasons why i think we shouldn't be building lots of new nuclear power plants. but we need to realize that once we've built the nuclear power plants we've already accepted having the problem. decommissioning them, saying we don't want them anymore, doesn't get away with all the waste fuel
that we already have. so in a sense we're talking about so do you want one ton or 1 1/2 ton? it's about the same problem. that's the really silly decision of saying, all right, let's get rid of nuclear because now we're worried. too late in a sense to make that decision. >> this is a fixed cost, stuck with it. >> yes bp. >> might as well look forward and see what we get. how about natural gas? the natural gas industry, rightly so, right now is out there with a lot of advertising saying we're domestic, the natural gas supplies here in the united states, we're clean from a green house gas perspective and we're not funding foreign nations when we buy it who may not be friendly to us. is that a solution we should go to in the short term? >> we are definitely going to be using a lot more gas partly because it's cheaper, partly because it's less impactful on global warming. but it's not going to be possible to make up for all the extra nuclear power. remember it's not really the u.s. that's talking about that you're going to scrap your nuclear power plants. but it is happening in europe.
we're seeing germany at least saying that ear not going to commission another seven of their oldest power plants. france, being the leader -- >> 80%. >> and the socialist party is talking act maybe getting rid of some of these and seeing japan talking about this, and that will mean increase in green house gas emissions and probably -- >> evend china said it was slowing down its nuclear industry, a shock to me because they have not been historically quite as concerned about some of the safety issues. >> i have a hard time find ought what they're actually saying. it seems to me they're saying they're concerned but will go ahead. >> let me use a word i haven't used yet but maybe we shoufr earlier, efficiency. when i was in government, the focus was these are second best choices, some economists would say. we don't want nukes, the dirty coal, we don't want gas has problems in terms of how you get it out of the earth and such. efficiency is the great answer. if quebwe can get cars to get t the gallon, lice bulb to give us
the same luminosity or whatever the word is, why don't we mandate that and technology can gets through? >> we are getting a lot more effective and there are good arguments for getting more effecti effective. it saves you money, gives you more comforts but the problem is we end up using more of all the other stuff. if your car drives longer that means you spend less on gasoline, i means you buy other stuff. if your light bulbs get cheaper, you light up more of your house. we actually have very good data that indicates that although you get efficiency you also just spend your money. so it's not actually a solution for what we're going to do with energy. >> all right. we shouldn't diminish the need to find efficiency. >> no. >> quickly, we haven't said much about solar. i said it can't gets through yet. is it the long-term answer once we perfect the technology and harness that never-ending power? >> the real point is to recognize that unless we find other and cheaper alternatives, for instance, solar,
fourth-generation nuclear, a lot of other technologies, those are the ones that will be powering the rest of the 21st century and that requires us to spend more money on research and development because unless we get that, we're going to go back to coal. >> is it fair to say that the sad thing is that after 30-plus years, i remember jimmy carter's speech, sitting in his cardigan sweater, we still don't have an energy policy. >> and we don't spend much on research and development. the depressing thing since the early '80s, it's gone downhill dramatically. despite the fact we all worry about global warming, we're not spending more money on it because we're so focused on next year we forget this is about the long term. this is about the next two to three to four decades. >> long term means next week. bjorn lomborg, thanks for joining us. coming up, back to wisconsin where that infamous anti-union bill is taking center stage again. believe it or not, the battle has gotten even hotter. people have all kinds of retirement questions.
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remember those crazy demonstrations in wisconsin we covered last month? the day of reckoning are here. voters are electing a supreme court justice. the polls close in just a few minutes. the new justice will cast the deciding vote on whether people in wisconsin have the right to bargain as a union. the governor says if you're in
the public sector, you don't. take a look at this negative ad about the conservative candidate. >> a priest sexually abuses children for 30 years across wisconsin. a mother tells prosser her two young sons were sexually assaulted. what does prosser do? he refuses to prosecute, doesn't even ask the police to investigate. tell david prosser judges should protect our children, not sex offenders. >> seems just a little down and dirty for state supreme court justice campaign, don't you think? take a look at the ad prosser's side ran about his liberal opponent. >> every crime has a victim and every victim expects the judge to deliver justice. >> i never said i was tough on crime. being tough on crime is not my message. >> call joanne kloppenburg. tell her being weak on criminals is dangerous for wisconsin families. >> will cain joins me now. how did a campaign for state
supreme court justice get so ugly? >> for two reasons. one, because the winner is supposed to be the swing vote on a court that very soon judges the validity of scott walker's collective bargaining law. second, for better or worse, this race has become a proxy for scott walker himself and for that plau in particular. we're joined by john nicholls live from madison, wisconsin. he is the soerpted editor of "the times." you've been in madison all day. tell us what's happening. you probably can call this race by now. i know polls haven't closed yet, but you can tell us who won, right? >> i wish i could. look, this is the most intense, most passionately fought race bar none that we've seen in wisconsin for a very long time. and when you start to make predictions in a race like that, you get into dangerous turf. we are going to have an unprecedented turnout for a spring election for a court. we will have more people voting in this election than we've had in some gubernatorial elections,
at least in some areas of the state, and i can tell you that in madison, it looks as if some precincts will have a presidential election level turnout. when you start to make predictions with so many new people coming out, you have to be careful. >> john, we should say that the two candidates for this supreme court seat aren't necessarily a democrat or a republican. but that being said, one is perceived as a liberal judge, one as a conservative judge. who does a large turnout favor in your mind? >> in my sense, the large turnout definitely gives an advantage to joanne kloppenburg, who is the challenger. she's an assistant attorney general right now, not a judge, but if she's elected, she would join the highest court in the state. joanne kloppenburg has definitely drawn strong support from union members and their allies, and the strong turnout in madison in dane county, which has been a hotbed of criticism of the governor's approach should be very good for her.
also the strong turnout in milwaukee county, which is a very democratic area, should be good for her. but i caution, we are still watching the whole of this state, usually in supreme court elections, the incumbent wins. in fact, since 1848, only two incumbent justices have been defeated. and no conservative justice has ever been defeated for re-election. so if joanne kloppenburg win, it will be a historic moment and it will be totally tied to this whole fight over labor rights. >> okay, then that's the question, john. you heard me say that in the setup. this whole thing has become a proxy on scott walker and that bill, which repealed collective bargaining rights. let me ask you, john, is that appropriate? this is a ten-year seat for someone to sit on the supreme court. should this race be judged by one issue like this? >> probably not. but let's be honest with ourselves. we have had presidential races, congressional races, and judicial races throughout the history of this country decided on single issues or a handful of
issues that are of the moment. what this really comes down to in wisconsin is a question of how independent this court will be of the governor. now, it happens at this point that the court is 4-3 conservative split that leans toward a position of being very favorable toward this governor, not just on this issue but a host of issues. if joanne kloppenburg beats david prosser, the court will be narrowly aligned in opposition to or at least in skepticism toward the governor. that's really what it comes down to. it's a little bigger than just the labor issue. it comes down to some of the core questions of checks and balances. >> john, i think that's right. this issue, very often even the most important political races we have single issues become proxies for metaphors for the way the candidate views an entire raft of issues. i think that's what we have here. to come back to the particular issue relating to the power of public sector workers to unionize, even if the court were
finally to say that the mechanism, the process by which this bill was passed violated the open meetings law of wisconsin, the governor and the republicans who control the legislature could go back and do it again. am i right about that? it seems at the end of the day that bill probably will become a law but your larger point about what this speaks to the ideology of the public and the court has gotten the public exercised. >> you're absolutely right. and let me just something to you, though. wisconsin is a very closely balanced state. it's a swing state in most presidential elections and also frankly a swing state in a lot of other races. if joanne kloppenburg is elected, if she defeats an incumbent scour justice really coming out of nowhere, a candidate who six weeks ago wouldn't have been considered particularly viable, if she wins, that signal is going to send some shock waves through the body politic of the state. my sense is that it could affect even some of these labor issues because if the governor and his legislative allies seek to bring
this issue back, they may have a much harder time getting members of the republican caucuses in the state senate and the state assembly to stick with the governor if they know that the voters are so angry that they're voting out supreme court justices. so it could even affect the current struggle over the labor bill. >> you know, it does strike me -- i said this back when this issue was being framed when the governor was there trying to push it through -- this was a bridge too far. i disagree with them as a matter of what the law should be regardless, but i thought as a matter of politics he was going too far saying not just we want the money back from the workers but we want to change the process by which they get to exercise their rights. i think the public gets that distinction. it's one thing to say contribute more to your pension, contribute more to your health care costs. it's something very different to say and by the way, we're taking away from you freedoms that most people still think kind of go with the workplace. >> you're exactly right. let me suggest something to you about this. when you poll on this issue, if
you say do you favor collective bargaining roughly 50%, 55% of the people say yes for public employees. if you ask them do you favor collective bargaining rights, add that word "rights" on and the numbers go well into the 60s, even into the low 70s. so people are very, very finely attuned to that question of taking away rights. i do think when governor walker went into this zone particularly, he really woke a sleeping giant. people who hadn't been energized on a lot of other issues and many others who are not union members came out to these demonstrations and i frankly think an awful lot of them are voting today. >> we're about to find out tonight instead of projecting, about to find out if voters feel that way. i think it's interesting both of you note while this is one issue there's a proxy for, there's a bigger issue at stake, the independent si of the judges. you've been in wisconsin for a while. these ads that elliott rolled at the top of the segment, the things being said prosser is
abetting the sexual misconduct of priests, kloppenburg is not qualified, have you ever seen ads like this run for a supreme court judge in wisconsin before? >> these are the most intense i've seen, particularly the ad against judge prosser. that's a very, very old case, one going back 30 years. so, yeah, there's an intensity here and a passion that has i think crept over lines that make a lot of people uncomfortable. we have had intense races in the past, however. our state supreme court is very, very powerful, and it is an elected supreme court, unlike many states. so you do see interest groups come in with a lot of money and a lot of passion. but there's simply no question. this is an unprecedented race. and the level of attention to it, the level of voter turnout is a reflection of that. usually negative ads turn people away from the polls and often suppress turnout. doesn't like that's going to be the case today. >> john nicholls, thanks for being here.
elliott? >> thank you. >> fascinating stuff. you can see links to more of those outrageous wisconsin public ads on our blog. up next, the rebels in libya forced to flee a key battlefront again. tonight, looking like a losing battle in libya. [ male announcer ] in the event of a collision, the smartest thing you could do is cut the fuel supply, unlock the doors, and turn on the hazard lights. ♪ or better yet, get a car that automatically does it for you. ♪ ♪
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entered into a secret deal with a gadhafi regime. that is a claim of a rebel leader in libya. the resistance looked for help that never came as gadhafi's men unleashed a vicious attack driving the rebels out of the all-important oil town of bray dpa. now joining us from eastern libya is ben wiedman. ben, the battle for brega has been a seesaw battle, back and forth for weeks. what's the latest? >> reporter: elliott, it's not really any longer the battle for brega. the rebel forces have been pushed way back, probably about 25 miles away from there. we were with them as this was going on, and yesterday there was a lot of talk about the rebels -- rather the loyalists running out of ammunition, that their supply lines had been cut as a result of the no-fly zone. was not the case today. they had plenty of ammunition, and they were firing it with deadly accuracy along that highway, forcing the opposition
fighters to really make a mad rush away from brega. at this point, it doesn't look like there's any possibility that they'll be getting anywhere near the town. in fact, the worry is that the rebels may not be even capable of protecting the town of ajdabiya, where i am right now. this is a city that was occupied last month for more than ten days. a lot of destruction, many people, in fact, disappeared as a result of that libyan occupation. so the situation very unstable at this point. brega is no longer the place where the battle is. the battle could be coming here. >> have you seen any evidence of the nato-provided air support? what happened after the first couple days when we had the u.s. fighter jets sort of carpet bomb lg loyalist troops, taking out the tanks? what is the status of the nato air support? >> certainly we hear it. we heard just a little while ago
planes overhead. while at the front lines you hear planes overhead. but they don't seem to be striking. nato officials are saying they destroyed 30% of the libyan army's military capabilities, but that other 70% is proving to be incredibly deadly and effective. the air strikes seem to have just come to an end. they may be occurring in places like misroca in the western part of the country, but as a result there's growing frustration with nato, one of the senior military officials of the libyan opposition in benghazi this evening complained that nato has left them down, that they're giving him intelligence on the movements of the libyan army in eastern libya but they don't seem to be doing anything about it. in fact, one of the commanders at the front i spoke with today said before we put our faith in god and we were winning this god, now we put our faith in
nato and we're losing. elliott? >> and finally, ben, yesterday there were rumors, reports that an offer had been made that the father, moammar gadhafi, would step down, that his son would step in in a transitional way. and somehow this would permit a reunification of libya as one nation. have you heard either that this is, in fact, an offer that's been made or any response to that from the opposition forces? >> reporter: well, we don't have solid proof that the offer was made. certainly, though, we have heard the response. the response from one official in benghazi was we don't want moammar gadhafi and we don't want the little gadhafis. what is clear is that people are not revolting here against one man, they're revolting against a regime that's been in place for nearly 42 years. and they've dismissed it out of hand. if you recall there was a
cease-fire offer made from tripoli a few days ago, and the response was that, well, we might consider some parts of it but our ultimate goal is a change of the regime. and that means an ouster of moammar gadhafi as well as his sons. >> all right. ben, as always, thank you so much for that report from the front lines in eastern libya. appreciate it and stay safe. all right. the president thinks he has headaches dealing with the republicans on capitol hill. what's happening in libya certainly not making things any easier for him. a spark might c- a touch, a glance -- it can come along anywhere, anytime. and when it does, men with erectile dysfunction can be more confident in their ability to be ready with cialis for daily use. cialis for daily use is a clinically proven low-dose tablet you take every day, so you can be ready anytime the moment's right even if it's not every day. tell your doctor about your medical condition and all medications and ask if you're healthy enough for sexual activity.
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we had the paul ryan budget proposal today, bowles-simpson, the bipartisan proposal, couple months back. one piece missing here is the president's blueprint. you got to believe at some point soon he's going to have to come out with what he wants to do about the tough budget issues continue fronting this nation. >> i guess. let me ask you quickly. don't filibuster. is the deficit and the national rising debt one of the major issues facing this country? >> long term, yes. everybody says debt, debt, debt is the issue. we have a jobs crisis. we have jobs, we'd have growth, revenue, then some of these numbers would reseed. long term what we have is a health care cost crisis. if we don't control that, then all this falls apart. >> good. i got you to say yes, that's one major crisis facing this country. >> long term. >> right now the leader of the free world ois